by Gin Getz
Recent Book Reviews
ByAnne Dal Veraon June 29, 2014
“The Last of the Living Blue” is about the past year at the ranch, with the trees dying of spruce beetles and the 100,000 acre West Fork Fire. It burned up the Rio Grande valley to within 6 miles of their ranch, close enough for smoke to fill their valley and close the road to the ranch. No guests came for the summer, and they stayed with the horses, cats, dogs and chickens. Gin is able to write about her personal feelings in a way that is so genuine and real, and it feels like sitting down with a good friend who is strong and self-reliant and sharing. I learn a lot about who she is and why she chooses to be there on the edge of wilderness, living a simple life with her husband and son. Many westerners have their own stories about fire in their backyards, as I do. We can certainly relate, and it helps to have her poetry and prose, her thoughts about fire and community and wildness, including change. Gin Getz shows us how we are not separate from nature, but an integral part of it.
ByStephanie Simpsonon June 28, 2014
Gin Getz’s second book, The Last of the Living Blue, drew me in immediately. I wish I had the vocabulary to write with the descriptive intensity and clarity that Gin shares with her reader in every sentence. The intimate way in which Gin describes her world, her love of the land, the trees, and those dear to her, so personally giving us an intimate view that is breathtaking. Gin writes with such passion and honest truth that I found myself falling in love with and hearing the voices of every tree on her mountain.
ByAl Olsonon July 4, 2014
Gin Getz, author the wonderful book “The Color of the Wild”, about her life at 10.000 feet at the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado, has done it again with her poignant novel “The Last of the Living Blue: A year of living and dying among the trees. Gin lives with her husband, Bob, and son, Forrest among the trees of the Colorado Rockies. Gin’s latest book captures the beauty of the mountains, the heartbreak of the pine beetle tree destruction, and the hope for the future of the mountains. Gin’s writing captures the pure spirit of a life lived well, with an honest portrayal of the current state of her part of the Colorado Rockies, and her thoughts about living there with her family. This book is a must read for all people interested in a family’s life in the wilderness.
ByKaren Baileyon June 27, 2014
I didn’t think it could get any better than The Color Of The Wild but it just did! In The Last Of The Living Blue the author takes us on an amazing journey through a year of her life on a remote ranch in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. She takes us through the devastation of drought, wildfire and of course the death of the beautiful Blue Spruce but leaves us with a new hope and a challenge to stand up for what we love, what we desire, what we believe in.
ByPreston Hathawayon June 29, 2014
An emotional tour de force! A “Must read!” The “Last of the Living Blue” reveals the coming of spring and life, one’s wrestling with the relentless march of death, and the gut wrenching angst that accompanies disaster. Gin shares her life in the mountains among the dying Blue Spruce near the headwaters of the Rio Grande; taking us on a journey of loss, deep sorrow, heart-rending grief, dreams, hope, and compassion. A memoir rich with the heartfelt sentiment of a strong woman sharing the vulnerability of a mountain, a forest, and the people that live thereon.
“The Last of the Living Blue” prompts tears, inspires hope, and provides some fundamental guidance for overcoming adversity. A great sequel to “The Color of the Wild.” Thanks Gin for another outstanding book.
ByKayann Shorton August 13, 2014
Part memoir, part diary, part poetry, The Last of the Living Blue propels readers into the haunting landscape surveyed by author Gin Getz from her remote mountain home in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness. Here readers will find the magnificent blue spruce and pine forests of the Rocky Mountains dying from a beetle infestation once prevented by frigid winters now diminished by a warming climate. In a small entry like a poem, Getz introduces us to the problem she faces every day:
Confessions heard in dying trees
a small woman looking
at a big forest ravaged
by tiny beetles
As this passage portrays, Getz’s memoir is a story of witness, a lone woman’s voice compelled to detail the loss through the hope of raising awareness before the tragedy is complete: “I can only tell you what I see. I see our hillsides turning pale green, yellow, brick red, then brown, and eventually gray. If you were here, you would see this too.”
Between descriptions of the disappearing treescape, Getz writes of her life in the mountains with her son and husband, of difficult transportation for goods and services, hard work for daily needs, and welcome isolation for many snowy months of the year. She shares a diary of “digging ditch”–the tough physical labor of clearing a wilderness river diversion of trees, stumps, and rocks with horses, saws, and picks. The work is grueling but the pay-off is large: “Silence. Space. Air. Wind. Rain. Wilds.” The appeal of these everyday scenes carry us through the grief of Getz’s interior conversation.
One summer, drought and fire threaten Getz’s home and guest ranch business through smoke and blaze worsened by the forest’s death: “Beetle kill burns well. This fire has gone huge. We’ll never look at a dead standing hillside the same way again.”
Still, Getz and her family remain on the mountainside, choosing to build a new home from logs they themselves will clear from the other side of the frozen river. This home will be full of light, with room for books and baking bread, a place from which to watch her “beloved trees.” Despite the changing climate that threatens her way of life, Getz knows the mountain will endure. “If I am to have faith,” she asserts, “I shall find it in the wind and wild.”
Sometimes, Getz’s verdant prose lulls us into forgetting that what she’s describing–the death of the trees she loves–conveys the opposite of the rich imagery with which she describes their demise: “Sap emerges in sparkling drip lines from almost invisible pin holes. A new batch of dying trees. A new generation expiring.”
Lush language pulls the reader–the often-addressed “you” Getz hopes to persuade into caring–toward empathy with Getz, the mountain, and the disappearing forest. To those who consider such devastation “natural,” Getz counters with a small dose of science and a large dose of observation: “I take out the draw knife for the first time this season and peel a small log we need for a remodel project on a guest cabin bathroom. With every pull of the knife, tiny white life revealed. Ten, twenty, maybe more. Slicing through life. Larva.”
Readers unfamiliar with the beetle infestation of Colorado’s Front Range eastern slope may require more context before they’re convinced of the link between “the last of the living blue” and global warming, but for those who are interested in this environmental tragedy or remember the Rockies before they withered brown, Getz’s memoir will remind them why testifying to such a loss matters. By many accounts, any policy actions–should the will to enact them ever transpire–will be too little and much, much too late. But for Getz, what matters first is the sharing: “Perhaps there will never be comprehension, but at least there should be compassion.”
As an ecology-based memoir, The Last of the Living Blue falls into a category I call “ecobiography” that connects a human life with the larger ecosystem in which it exists. Ecobiographies are testimonies that bear witness to the natural world around us. Insightful authors like Getz see and evoke beauty for us so that we, too, may understand. As life on earth changes lamentably and inexorably, books like The Last of the Living Blue will become important records of a world once lived with abundance and hope.
ByS. Jordanon August 12, 2014
I received this book as part of a Goodreads “First Reads” contest giveaway. This book is an emotional, compelling account of a year in the author’s life as she struggles to survive in the wilderness of southwestern Colorado’s mountain region. Author Getz has chosen to call these mountains home, along with her husband, son and numerous animal friends. Over the course of a year, this region experiences severe drought, damaging rains, a beetle infestation that destroys millions of the author’s beloved blue spruce trees, and fires that ravage tens of thousands of forested acres. Yet, throughout all this death and destruction, Ms. Getz never fails to notice and appreciate the splendor of the surrounding nature; she is even able to find beauty among the dead and dying trees.
The Last of the Living Blue is written in somewhat of a diary format, with each chapter succinctly depicting a single month of what the author sees taking place in the surrounding Weminuche Wilderness. Author Getz’s personal frustrations and uncertainties are illustrated through poetry which is thoughtfully dispersed throughout the chapters. The author’s feelings and emotions are palpable as she candidly portrays the devastation going on around her. But this book is certainly not all gloom and doom either – there are many joyous and beautiful moments too as she describes the life that unfailingly continues to spring forth and thrive despite the loss.
By writing this book, author Getz hopes that each and every one of us will open our eyes to the impact that climate change is having on our environment. We all have a responsibility to do our part to decrease our carbon footprint, thereby protecting the Earth’s natural resources and wildlife. We should not just sit back and say “it’s someone else’s problem” or “there’s nothing I can do”. Every small thing that we as individuals do – from recycling/reducing our trash to shutting off lights and electronics when not in use – can add up to huge positive changes for our environment. If we do nothing, the Earth’s natural resources will continue to disappear at an alarming rate until we are left with nothing at all.
ByJean Doryon August 12, 2014
This is a must book for all nature lovers, but it is more. Unlike Getz’s first book (Color of the Wild) with its many flashbacks necessary to provide understanding of who she is and why she is so impassioned, Last of the Living Blue is focused and disciplined. (This excellent book stands on its own, but a reading of her first provides useful background color.) Getz writes from the heart and gut, sharing her feelings and observations with utmost honesty and discernment. Her style is fluid, poetic, and beautiful. Her descriptions draw precise pictures of her gorgeous—or heartbreaking—surroundings. Through her isolation and introspection, Getz challenges our concepts of what is worthwhile in life. The glimpses of terror contemplating destruction of our forests and facing possible ravages of forest fire, glances into a life of hard work justified by love of the mountains, horses, and family, and gifts of getting to know a truly remarkable woman—there are many reasons to appreciate this book. Last of the Living Blue is both a wake-up call and a love story, as Getz cries out for the trees and mountains she treasures, as she sees them being endangered by climate change and government inaction. Great book!
ByShelly S.on July 17, 2014
This book represents the most unique view of the devastation in one of our magnificent spruce forests in Colorado due to drought, pine beetles, and fire. Gin and her family live in the wilderness behind the fire line where no one else stayed. Her writing provides a real account of how it was and is, plus a stirring description of life in a harsh environment. You will be captivated and inspired by her personal story. This book is not based on a true story. It is the true story, real and raw.
ByLauraon July 12, 2014
I loved this book. It was so real, Gin really opens up and shares her life to a point that you feel you are there with her. She can make you feel things, it hey aren’t all happy feelings but it is very cool.
ByGwendolyn Planoon September 18, 2014
Passion spurs passion. Its raw truth takes hold of our hearts until we grasp its purpose. The Last of the Living Blue is a book about passion—lived in the wilds of Colorado. Walking with author Gin Getz through the seasons of her mountain retreat became a personal journey for me. I felt her sorrow over the burnt trees, understood her despair of environmental threat, embraced her love of nature’s beauty…and then realized she was speaking for me.
She writes, “Here, you can’t avoid the changes…you not only see them, you feel them. You are fully immersed, for better and for worse.” This immersion, from which Getz writes, is so complete that readers become travelers with her. And in the process, they are brought back into their own lives more fully.
Getz asks a startling question, “if the silent land would learn to scream then would we finally listen?” Her plea is a wakeup call for all of us.
ByBrenda McGinnison January 11, 2015
After reading Gins first book and not being able to put it down, also being in love with this area and surviving the fires that evacuated our little South Fork town, I started her second book again not wanting to put it down until it was finished. The fire was devastating as was the beatle kill that started the process but Gin found beauty in it and worked thru it like the death and grieving process that it was. She truly is an amazing woman and writer who is able to look beyond what’s right in front of her and see what’s underneath. Thank you for the reminder to find the beauty in the midst of the storms. Your UPS driver will miss the beauty you’ve drawn him to by living so remote. Amazing book my friend.
Byann marquetteon August 18, 2014
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed “The Last of the Living Blue.” This is the true story of living life on the mountain and its wilderness in Colorado. Gin shares the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Gin’s gift of words, how she describes her days, allows me to see and feel some of what that life is like. I could not live that life, but am inspired by hers. Reading Gin’s blog and the wonderful photos she shares is a joy. Her strength and determination through the beetles killing trees, then fires and floods, is a testament to her love of this place she calls home.
I love the story as written in her journal.
ByLaura Collicaon January 8, 2015
In the “The Last of the Living Blue” Gin Getz mixes personal reflections and episodes of everyday life to careful observation of how the forest changes under her eyes. The tones are strong and delicate at the same time, and the narrative flows sometimes calm, sometimes impetuous, like the water in the Rio Grande River, which runs next to her cabins.
Read her book was like to experience a year in those forests, hear the silence in those mountains, and the “pain” of those dying trees. The story is touching and I have really liked it.
ByKim’s kickin it!on October 6, 2014
Excellent book! Gin really helps us see the deeper part of the forest and our lives. Very captivating writer, hard to put down. Her connection with nature is wonderful & now I look at the nature that surrounds us with much more appreciation.
Gin’s love affair with nature is in my opinion akin to Rumi’s love affair with God! Both touch my heart! I am looking forward to now reading her other book “color of the wild”.
Thank you Gin, keep up your beautiful writing!
ByMartyon February 23, 2015
Gin Getz has a knack for describing nature and her life living close to nature. The dying trees was, and still is, very real. The resulting fire is described by Gin honestly and with heart wrenching detail.
BySusieon August 28, 2014
Really loved this book and the way the author wrote like a journal. I loved it.